- Who can come to Mexico?
- Do we have to build a house?
- Where do groups stay when they come to volunteer?
- Is it safe to stay in Mexico?
- What do I need to get across the border?
- Can we drink water in Mexico?
- Can we flush the toilet paper?
- What do we wear & what do we bring to the job site?
- Will we have help on the job site? How do we know what to do?
- Can we give money directly to families in Mexico while we are there?
- What kind of house is built?
- How are families chosen to receive houses?
- Why does the family have to own the land & how do they obtain it?
- Is the family required to attend a Faith Ministry-affiliated church?
WHO CAN COME TO MEXICO?
Anyone and everyone is welcome to come and serve in Mexico! Team members range in age from 8 years old to 80+ years old (though we do recommend anyone under age 18 is accompanied by a parent or guardian). It makes a great youth trip, adult trip or intergenerational trip! There’s a wide variety of activities during the week, each requiring people with different skills, physical abilities and talents. Teams have ranged in size from six people to 60 people, though most groups have around 12-15 people. No matter how many people, there are opportunities for everyone to change lives and be changed in the process.
DO WE HAVE TO BUILD A HOUSE?
No! We have many other projects for your team in our medical, nutrition, and spiritual areas, as well as small construction projects. While most teams build a house, there are other activities for team members who are unable or don’t want to work in construction. Some volunteers work at our clinic (dental or general practice) or do activities with the children or our church (VBS, crafts with locals, prayer walks, Bible distribution, special services, etc.). Small construction projects can include building a bathroom for a family in need, painting at one of the churches or clinic, roofs or floors for families, rebar tower construction, etc.
WHERE DO GROUPS STAY WHEN THEY COME TO VOLUNTEER?
In Reynosa, we have two options for lodging: the dorms at our complex and the dorms above our medical clinic. The dorms at our complex are located at the “hub” of our ministry activity and cost teams $15/person/night. The dorms above our medical clinic are air-conditioned and cost teams $20/person/night. Both facilities are equipped with rooms, bathrooms, showers and kitchens. Though we recommend staying with us to get a closer experience with the local culture and the Mexican volunteers, it is not a requirement. It is an option to stay in Texas at a hotel or other facility.
IS IT SAFE TO STAY IN MEXICO?
Yes. The safety of our mission work groups is our highest priority. The violence reported in the news is contained to certain areas of the city and has not affected the areas where we work. We put measures in place to keep you safe at all times. A Faith Ministry staff member will be with you at all times, including crossing the border and driving in the communities, and there are always two to three night guards where the team is staying overnight. In the case of a medical emergency, a Faith Ministry staff member will accompany any group member to the hospital in Reynosa or will cross the border into McAllen (a 30-40 minute drive).
WHAT DO I NEED TO GET ACROSS THE BORDER?
For entry into Mexico, any official ID (driver’s license, etc.) will work; most of the time, Mexican border patrol does not ask for any documents. To come back into the U.S., you will need a valid U.S. passport. For more information on re-entering the U.S. from Mexico via land, visit U.S. Customs and Border Patrol’s website.
CAN WE DRINK WATER IN MEXICO?
No! Water from the tap in Mexico is not safe to drink. If someone offers you water, make sure it is bottled/purified (“está purificado?“). We have gallons of purified water and bags of purified ice available for your team’s use during your stay.
CAN WE FLUSH THE TOILET PAPER?
No, you cannot flush the toilet paper! The Faith Ministry complexes have modern bathrooms with showers to accommodate your team. Flushing toilet paper is not allowed because of two main problems: the plumbing pipes are smaller in Mexico than in the U.S., and the water pressure is low and cannot push the paper through the pipes. Attempting to flush toilet paper will clog and back up the system.
WHAT DO WE WEAR & WHAT DO WE BRING TO THE JOB SITE?
Old clothing that you don’t mind getting dirty is suggested for working on construction sites, as well as very sturdy shoes. Protection from the heat and sun is essential. It can get very hot in the spring, summer and fall. You will need a hat, work gloves, sunglasses, water bottle, and sunscreen. If you are able to bring tools like trowels and wire cutters, we are always in need of those items. However, we will definitely provide the tools you need to work.
WILL WE HAVE HELP ON THE JOB SITE? HOW DO WE KNOW WHAT TO DO?
You’ll be working with a crew of our local Mexican staff, as well as volunteers working as “sweat equity” for their own house. Our staff and volunteers are great at teaching U.S. groups what to do, and they’ll work alongside you to make sure the job is done right!
CAN WE GIVE MONEY DIRECTLY TO FAMILIES IN MEXICO WHILE WE ARE THERE?
No. We have found that many families, due to their extreme poverty, tend to share their needs with several teams, and we often find several donations coming for the same need. We ask the families to bring their needs to the Faith Ministry office so we can assess and evaluate the validity of their requests within the needs of the whole community and other families. If there is a need you can help with, you can make a donation to Faith Ministry through our U.S. office, and we will make sure it gets to the family in need.
WHAT KIND OF HOUSE IS BUILT?
We build a cinderblock house with a concrete floor and roof. Each house is 12 feet by 24 feet and has two windows and at least one door. We purchase all materials for the houses locally in Mexico. When compared to wood houses, the concrete and cinderblock houses provide better shelter to the occupants and last for many years. They are sturdier and provide better protection in extreme weather conditions. They maintain a more constant temperature, warmer in winter and cooler in summer.
HOW ARE FAMILIES CHOSEN TO RECEIVE HOUSES?
When a family comes to our office to apply for a house, we run a socioeconomic survey to assess the family’s needs. A Faith Ministry staff member then visits their current living space for an evaluation and interview. To be approved to receive a house, the family must own the land they want the new house built on, and they must provide a volunteer (from their family or friends) to work with Faith Ministry as “sweat equity” for the house for eight months.
WHY DOES THE FAMILY HAVE TO OWN THE LAND & HOW DO THEY OBTAIN IT?
We require families to own the land because this house will be a gift for the family, and if they do not hold ownership of the land, they could lose possession of the property once the house is built. Most of the families have been living in the same area for a long time and are able to build on a small part of land belonging to their parents. Other times, the families just came from southern Mexico, find land, and occupy or “sit” on that land for several years until they get squatters rights, which are legal in Mexico. Some families buy the land by paying little by little until they own the property, and some families receive support in their land purchases from donors through their special gifts to Faith Ministry.
IS THE FAMILY REQUIRED TO ATTEND A FAITH MINISTRY-AFFILIATED CHURCH?
No. We ask them to come to the daily devotions to bond with and to have fellowship with the U.S. mission groups, but they are not required to come to our churches on Sundays. Although they are not required to attend or be members of a church, we are always looking for opportunities to share and show the love of Christ to them.